How to Win at Monopoly
95% of this game is half mental. ~ Yogi Berra
Do you want to know a secret?
Starsky’s not a great driver. Hell, he’s not even a good driver. His approach to parallel parking consists
of aiming the nose of his car diagonally between the other two vehicles and driving right up onto the sidewalk. He cuts across
lanes without signaling. He speeds, even when there’s no hurry to be anywhere.
What he is, though, is a fearless driver. He takes to the road with a complete lack of caution, an absolute conviction that
he’s immortal. Untouchable. He can make his car do things that should be impossible, things I swear violate the laws
of physics. To this day, he still insists that if he’d been behind the wheel there’s no way I’d have ever
ended up at the bottom of a canyon under my car. And maybe he’s right. I just know there’s no one I’d
rather have behind the wheel during a chase.
So when he started driving under the speed limit on our way home from the hospital with Terry...
That’s when I knew how scared he really was.
“Best friends” – that’s what she called us. Her and me, I mean, not me and Hutch.
I liked having two best friends. One to work with, and one to play with.
Hutch steals my lunch, eats it, and says he’s saving me from myself. He says it’s his job, to look after his
partner. I used to try to hide my lunches from him, but then it occurred to me that maybe he was trying to tell me that he
needed someone to keep an eye on. Now I always make sure to eat the most disgusting stuff I can buy, right in front of him.
And if I think he’s not paying enough attention to me, I’ll drip ketchup on his reports.
Terry... Terry was smart and sweet and she had a core of solid steel. She liked to twist me around her little finger, make
me do things I thought I’d never, ever get off on. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I liked the idea that she
was all mine. And I liked the idea that she wanted me to be all hers.
And here’s my secret. What I really liked most of all was watching them square off against each other. Jousting over
who got to be my best, best friend.
I just couldn’t see what the fascination was for Starsky. So she was sweetly respectable on the outside, and a little
kinky on the inside...
Okay, a lot kinky on the inside. He told me all about it, when he first started seeing her.
But if it was just about the sex, then Starsky wouldn’t have started spending all his time with her. He wouldn’t
have clammed up when I asked him how his evening went. He would have given me all the details, bragging about the things
he did... had done to him.
Christ. He’ll never know what that did to me, having to imagine it all. I mean, I knew the girl was into leather.
He’d told me that much, before he stopped talking to me. Without any new information coming in, I couldn’t help
worrying. What if she was hurting him? What if she was abusing him? What if that whole sweet act was just a cover for terrible
She could call him anything she liked, but he was my best friend first.
“What if we invited Hutch over to play?”
That’s what she said. Just like that, knocking me right back onto my heels. “You want Hutch?” If I wasn’t
such a tough guy, I might have cried. I mean, it figures. Chicks always go for the tall blond. Why would I have thought
Terry was any different?
You know, sometimes in the bars they even flip a coin over us, and the winner always chooses Hutch. I don’t mind.
Usually. As long as they’re both foxes, it doesn’t matter much.
Except this time it mattered a lot.
Terry was saying something, but I wasn’t listening. Not until her voice got that sharp sound, the one that says I shouldn’t
make her repeat herself again, because she won’t.
“I don’t want Hutch for me, I want him for you.”
Starsky doesn’t really blush. He’s too dark for that. But when he’s embarrassed he gets sort of bug-eyed,
like he’s not getting quite enough oxygen.
“Let me get this straight,” I said. “Your girlfriend wants to sleep with me.” It wouldn’t
be the first time, but it was the last thing I’d expected from Terry.
“No. She just wants all three of us... Uh... You know.” It had taken all day for Starsky to work up the nerve
to broach the topic, and now he was looking like he might pass out.
“She wants you to sleep with me?” Wow, the girl was even kinkier than I thought.
People were turning to stare at us, wondering what Starsky was shouting about. I dropped my voice, hoping he’d get
the hint. “Starsky, I’m trying to figure out what you want me to do.”
“Just come over tonight, okay? We’ll talk about it.”
How do you dress for an assignation with your partner and his girlfriend? His freaky, leather-loving girlfriend who's been
trying to steal him from you for these last several weeks?
I decided on black and blue... blue jeans and a black turtleneck, I mean.
I’ve told some lies in my life. Once I told Dobey that Hutch wouldn’t visit his mother without his gun, and that’s
not true at all. He only wears his gun when he thinks he might need it, and ever since his dad split he’s got no problem
visiting his mother unarmed.
I also lied when I told Hutch that Terry didn’t want us to sleep together.
See, a lie is still a lie, if you meant to lie, even if it turns out in the end you told the truth. The thing is,
I figured that’s what Terry really did want. So it seemed to me that it’d be a lot easier to explain the truth
to her if I had Hutch right there to back me up.
I like an uninhibited girl, but I think sometimes you can take it too far. Not everything’s about sex. Hutch is closer
to me than a brother, but the word you have to pay attention to there is not “close,” it’s “brother.”
When the doorbell rang, it was Terry who answered the door. I would have, but she pointed at the couch without a word and
immediately I went to that ‘whip me, beat me, make me yours’ place. By the time I’d hauled my brain up
out of my balls, she was already opening the door.
“Hutch,” she said, sweetly. “I’m so glad you could make it...” There was a pause, and then
she added, “But if you were hoping for pistols at dawn, I’m afraid I’ve forgotten to bring mine.”
I leaned over the arm of the couch, trying to see Hutch.
Oh shit. He’d brought his gun.
“Habit,” I said, hanging my jacket and holster over the back of a kitchen chair. “I wear my gun everywhere.
I forgot I was putting it on.”
Starsky crossed his arms and gave me his ‘you’re a big fat liar’ look. Terry, on the other hand, smiled
and asked if I wanted any brandy in my tea.
“Trying to get me drunk?” I was hoping she’d fill me in on what this evening was supposed to be about.
Maybe she’d slip up, and say or do something that’d give me an excuse to boot her the hell out of Starsky’s
“I’ll take that as a no to the brandy,” she said, pouring out three cups. “Do you play Monopoly?”
But how am I supposed to fight when my opponent won’t throw the first punch?
“I like the game. It’s all about ownership,” she said, as we sat down in the living room. “It’s
about gaining power and hanging onto it. Sometimes it’s a short game. One player gets all the properties and everyone
else is bankrupted. Sometimes, though, it turns into a contest between two players. Power keeps changing hands, back and
forth. And the game seems to go on forever.”
I’m pretty smart. I got what she was talking about right away. Starsky on the other hand was sitting on the couch
between us with his eyebrows going up one side and down the other.
“Three weeks must be new record,” I said. “Longest game ever.” I turned sideways so that I could
see her properly. We were a little squished on the couch, but neither of us had wanted to take the chair.
Then something evil took possession of me and I hooked my leg over Starsky’s knee. Starsky immediately stiffened.
Terry smiled. “Someone has to win.” She put both her feet in Starsky’s lap.
“Agh,” said Starsky, intelligently.
I leaned forward, shoving her feet up into Starsky’s stomach and moving my other knee up onto his legs. I looked her
right in the eye. “But the real fun isn’t winning. It’s playing the game.”
“Guys?” said Starsky, sounding strangled.
Terry scooted forward until her feet were on either side of me, practically in both of our laps at the same time. “But
what’s the point of playing,” she asked, “if you’re not playing to win?”
I don’t know why I thought Hutch was going to just sit there and calmly explain to Terry that he doesn’t like
me like that.
I sure didn’t expect to find myself with both of them on top of me, having a scary conversation about a board game.
And I definitely didn’t expect to find myself turned on by the whole thing.
“Play to win?” demanded Hutch. “You don’t win a person!” His chest was right up against
my shoulder, and I could feel his breath on my cheek.
“Of course you do,” said Terry. “You win their heart, you win their love.” Her small, round tush
was right in my lap and when she leaned forward I could feel it right down to my toes.
I let my head drop onto the back of the couch with a groan. I never should have invited Hutch over. I should have just told
Terry no, no way, you live in this part of my life and he lives in that part, and there’s no way you two can come together.
Terry turned and kissed Starsky, right in front of me. Then, smiling, she said, “You can’t give him that.”
I hooked my arm around Starsky’s head and pulled him toward me, away from her. I said to Terry, “I don’t
want to give him that. I don’t even mind if you want to give him that. I just don’t want you taking all
“He’s my boyfriend. I’m entitled to the rest!”
“You know what you are, lady?” I didn’t wait for an answer. “You’re greedy!”
Starsky’s face was pressed into my shoulder and he was mumbling something, urgently. I ignored him and pointed my index
finger at her.
“That’s right, you’re greedy! You want everything, and you won’t share with anyone else. I haven’t
had a single night alone with Starsky since you came on the scene. He’s always over at your place, letting you tie
him up and twist him around your perfect little finger!” Starsky was really struggling now, so I let him have him head
“I think—,” he began, loudly. But Terry put her hand over his mouth. She was still looking at me.
“He likes having someone tell him what to do,” she said. “He needs it.”
I guess she must have been right, because Starsky shut right up.
“He’s my partner,” I said. “If anyone’s going to tell him what to do... it’s going
to... be me...” I would have put a lot more conviction into that last statement, except for the fact that I’d
suddenly noticed that Starsky was getting a glazed expression in his eyes.
And his hips were moving.
I smacked the back of his head. “Hey, we’re having an argument here!”
“I can’t help it,” he said, sounding panicky.
Enough’s enough. “Get off my partner!”
Hutch reached down under Terry, probably intending to pick her up and deposit her back on her own side of the couch. The
problem was, though, that Terry was sitting on me. Which put Hutch’s hand right in my crotch.
Not much of a touch, but it was just about enough to kill me. “Hutch, Hutch, stop!”
He stopped, but he didn’t remove his hand. He was staring at Terry.
Her ass may have been in my lap, but her legs were wrapped around his waist. Just like his were wrapped around hers.
“This is kind of fun, isn’t it?” she asked.
“Butter doesn’t melt in your mouth, does it?” he said.
“You don’t play Monopoly because you like the game,” she said. “You play because you like to win.
You want everything.”
“I’m not going to lose,” said Hutch.
“Neither will I.”
Hutch licked his lips, his eyes still on Terry. I might not have existed at all.
Finally he leaned forward, wrapped his free hand around the back of her head and kissed her. “Ever played teams?”
I just about died on the spot.
And then, when she reached down and popped the button of my jeans, I think I did die.
The terror and despair I saw in his eyes after she died... I knew I’d better not leave him alone. I slept on his couch
that first night.
The second night, I spent in his bed, holding onto him while he sobbed.
On the third night I took the clip out of his gun when he wasn’t looking. And then I forgot to put it back in the morning
before he got up.
He cornered me in the shower, his gun dangling from one finger. “How do you expect me to defend myself without firepower?”
There was soap running down my forehead and into my eyes. It stung when I tried to wipe it out. “Clip's in the pocket
of my jeans.”
Instead of closing the shower curtain, Starsky crossed his arms and leaned back against the sink. He stared at me.
I tried to ignore him. I rinsed the rest of the soap out.
“You love me, don’t you?” he said.
“Not like she did,” I answered.
He straightened and took a step forward. “You love me exactly—.” His finger poked my chest for emphasis.
“Exactly like she did.”
I felt a stab of panic. “Starsk, I don’t—.”
“I said love. If you think that’s all love is, you’re more of a chump than I thought.”
The water was coming down on top of my head, running down over my shoulders. He was getting damp, too, standing in front
of the open curtain. I looked at the lines of exhaustion on his face, at the defeated curve of his shoulders.
I wanted to wrap my arms around him. I wanted to make it all better. And a small, unworthy part of me simply wanted to smack
him and tell him to get over her, she wasn't worth the pain. “Okay,” I said, finally. “I guess I do love
The corner of his mouth quirked. “Just wanted to hear you admit it.”
I know Hutch loved Terry just as much I did. He kissed her. He held her. And he cried when we said goodbye to her. And
she gave him Ollie bear.
It means a lot to me to know that both of my best friends were best friends with each other, too.
Saint Terry. The picture of perfection, all her faults forgotten.
Starsky’s never going to have another lover who even comes close.
I hope she’s burning in hell.